Genoa gets 2-match home stadium ban after protests
ROME (AP) - Genoa's soccer team was banned from its stadium for its final two home games this season following a protest-filled 4-1 loss to Siena.
The league announced the decision a day after Sunday's match with Siena was suspended for about 45 minutes early in the second half. Genoa fans threw flares onto the field and climbed onto barriers as they were met by stadium officers in riot gear.
With Genoa trailing 4-0, players tried to appease the hard-core fans by removing their shirts to acknowledge they weren't worthy of wearing them.
The ANSA news agency says that police have identified three fans involved and banned them from sports events for five years.
This was the latest in a long list of crowd problems at Serie A matches, and Italian Olympic Committee President Giovanni Petrucci said Monday the situation is "beyond the point of no return.''
Genoa has two home games remaining this season - Cagliari on May 2 and Palermo on May 13. The loss left Genoa one point above the relegation zone, and resulted in coach Alberto Malesani being fired for the second time this season.
"It's not enough to ban the stadium, we need to stop these delinquents that are damaging football and Genoa,'' Serie A President Maurizio Beretta said.
Giancarlo Abete, president of the Italian soccer federation, said the players shouldn't have given in to the fans' demands, but Genoa President Enrico Preziosi said taking off the shirts "made good sense, to prevent something worse from happening.
"They were throwing fireworks and small bombs onto the pitch,'' Preziosi added. "These 60-70 people are not fans, they're just organized delinquents.''
An Italy-Serbia match in the same stadium last season was stopped in similar circumstances - albeit with Serbian fans causing the violence. There were also massive clashes following the shooting of a Lazio fan by a police officer at a highway rest stop in 2007.
The latest protests came just a week after all Italian matches were called off following the death of Piermario Morosini in a Serie B game because of cardiac arrest.
"I'm not sure people realize what is happening to part of the football world,'' Petrucci said. "A week ago we had a drama and there was dedication to (improve), but yesterday it seemed like nothing had happened at all. We showed how you can ruin the best show in the world.''